02023-02-24 | Book, History, Reading | 1 comment

Last year I read A Small Death in Lisbon and enjoyed it. This year I started reading another book, by the same author, that also takes place in and around Lisbon. Here is a character from the book The Company of Strangers, by Robert Wilson, speaking about Fado and Lisbon. This takes place in 1944.

The Portuguese controlled the trade that made food taste good… and then they lost it all and not only that… their capital was destroyed by a cataclysmic event. The earthquake. On All Souls Day, too. Most of the population were in church. Crushed by falling roofs. The flood and fire. The perils of Egypt, minus the plague and locusts, were visited on them in a few hours. So that’s where Fado comes from. Dwelling in and on the past. There are other things too. Men putting out to sea in boats and not always coming back. The women left behind to fend for themselves and to sing them back into existence. Yes, it’s a sad place, Lisbon, and fado provides the anthems. That’s why I don’t live there. Go there as little as possible.

It’s fun to recognize streets and squares and parks where the story takes place. The sadness the character describes, however, I don’t recognize today. Fado, Flamenco, the Blues, they are all more universal than any horrible event or terrible loss. To me, they speak of being human. There isn’t a family alive that hasn’t dealt with loss. It comes in different shapes and colors, but we all know it, we recognize it, and we feel its echo in the music.

(((I wonder whether some day sad music might be outlawed, as books are being outlawed now, because being sad can make us reflect on our lives, can make us introspective and less excited about climbing ladders and shopping.)))

1 Comment

  1. anne

    Climbing ladders? ..to build what? Whatever it is …need lots of funds.

    stated reviewing the Medici family. Key members loved the arts – all the great masters benefited from this family.


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